An Irishman imprisoned in Lithuania after being convicted of trying to buy weapons for the Real IRA has been freed by an appeal court, his lawyer said.
Michael Campbell, from Co Louth close to the border with Northern Ireland, was arrested in 2008 as part of a sting operation which included undercover British agents as he allegedly tried to purchase guns and explosives.
He was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2011 by a court in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius but that has been overturned by a higher court, counsel Ingrida Botyriene said.
“He was acquitted because the court found that what he was accused of was a provocation. It was just an activity of the state security services,” she said.
She added that almost six years after his arrest he was glad to be free.
“It was unexpected, we thought that this case would reach the European Court of Human Rights, we thought it would go a longer distance. Some very serious things are not right in this case but we are happy (he was freed).”
Campbell, from Dundalk, was arrested following an operation by security service MI5.
He was convicted in October 2011 of supporting a terrorist group, illegal possession of weapons and attempted smuggling. His lawyer at the time said Campbell insists he was set up.
He was arrested after an international surveillance operation involving the British secret service, Irish and Lithuanian intelligence services.
The Real IRA broke away from the Provisional IRA after they called a ceasefire in 1997.
Along with a number of other dissident republican groups, it is trying to derail the peace process.
It has shot dead two young soldiers in Antrim.
Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey were killed as they collected a pizza delivery outside their base in 2009.
Irmantas Mikelionis, chief prosecutor at the Organised Crime and Corruption Investigation Department of the prosecutor’s office, confirmed Campbell had been released.
Campbell, 41, is the brother of Liam Campbell. Liam Campbell was one of two men held liable for the Omagh bombing in 1998.